Book Chapter

We interrupt this program: on the cultural techniques of ’technical difficulties’


Chapter Author
Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby



This chapter examines interruptions to flows of mediation. More specifically, it will seek to examine interruptions as cultural techniques (Siegert, 2015, 2017), aiming to elucidate their respective ontic operations, cultural functions, and revelations of opportunities for agency. The different interruption techniques studied in this chapter include freezes; static; and requisitions. Naturally, this is only an initial selection, and represents by no means a systematic range of examples. The chapter will trace these techniques across media forms (including TV broadcasts, home computer hacking, and video game streaming). The chapter is based on the fundamental assumption that breakdowns are capable of revealing previously ubiquitous and/or obscured aspects of mediation (James, 1991; Star, 1999) or that they can be productive and innovative sources for communication in their own right (Barker, this volume; Kelly, 2009; Krapp, this volume; Nunes, 2011). As Mako Hill states: ‘Errors are underappreciated and underutilized in their ability to reveal technology around us’ (2011, 28). Paraphrasing Adorno (1983, 232), we could even say that ‘Interruptions are the medium in which the noncommunicable is communicated’. In summary, the chapter will reflect on what interruptions to media flows, and the way these are handled, can tell us about mediated communication, by tracing them across historical and contemporary media forms.

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  • Type:
    Book Chapter (peer reviewed)
  • Anthology:
    Miscommunication: Errors, Mistakes, and the Media
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About the Author

Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby

Rahm-Skågeby is an associate professor (docent) in media studies at Stockholm university. He holds a PhD in informatics geared towards interaction design and Human-Computer Interaction; a BSSc in information and media science (including behavioura... Read more


Rahm-Skågeby, J. (2021). We interrupt this program: on the cultural techniques of ’technical difficulties’. In: T. Barker and M. Korolkova, eds., Miscommunication: Errors, Mistakes, and the Media, London: Bloomsbury.